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Out of the mouths of babes...

by Andrew Douglas
Out of the mouths of babes...

Imagine if you clicked a link to Andrew Coyne's latest column in the National Post, and found a little mini-bio next to his photo byline:

"Andrew Coyne is an Irish/Scottish mix who enjoys sexual intercourse with women."

"Good for Andrew Coyne, I guess?" you'd probably say to yourself.

Or, perhaps, on the Halifax Examiner:

"Tim Bousquet is a straight white male".

Never mind. You'd never see that last one. He's got his credibility to protect. But you see what I'm getting at.

That is, any declaration from a scribe about his or her ethnic background and who they like to bang comes off sounding a little weird to my ears. Possibly yours, too.

Which is why I shake my head at navel-gazing declarations like the one that introduced Lewis Rendell, a guest writer on Mr. Bousquet's website this morning:

"Lewis is a queer, mixed indigenous woman," reads her blurb right off the top.

Which is when I stopped reading entirely and went onto something else.

Not because I'm of the belief that queers and Indians don't have anything interesting to say, heavens no. It's because if the first words out of your mouth upon introducing yourself to people is a non-sequitur declaration of your minority sexual preference and your minority ethnicity, it might be you've got a lot of growing up to do, and probably not much interesting to say.

When I was a little kid, I took great pride in the fact that I was adopted.

In my mind, it separated me from the pack in an exciting way. I fancied myself an exotic creature. Most of the other kids in my class were born at the boring 'ol Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow. Me, I was born in faraway Hamilton, Ontario, and I was probably conceived in a back alley somewhere. (I actually used to tell people that. Even though I wasn't entirely clear at the time what went into the making of a baby. I knew that it involved grown-ups having to drop their pants, but that's about as far as my understanding went.)

"Hi, I'm Andrew. I'm adopted," might well have been my way of introducing myself to you when I was six or seven years old. At 38, I tend not to say that much anymore.

So when you see a scribe introduce herself to readers with "I'm a queer, mixed indigenous woman" (over at the Coast she's a "displaced Metis queer," which sounds even more exotic), readers are excused for thinking she sounds for all the world like a little kid spurting forth random facts hoping to impress us. She says she's a queer, mixed indigenous woman or a poly/trans/excessive-sexual from Nipandtuck'toyaktuk (er, whatever that Indian word for Halifax is that the granola-crunchers like to cite), but we hear, "My cat's breath smells like cat food". Adorable out of the mouths of babes; meaningless, self-indulgent silliness from anyone else.

andrew@frankmagazine.ca

 

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